The Charmer in Chaps
After surviving a childhood in the foster system, Ella Kendall doesn’t have a lot to her name. She has her dog, her pig, and a home she just inherited that could use a little work. She remembers Luca Prince and remembers that he was a player. Yes, he’s gorgeous and charming but she has no intention of falling for that.
The youngest son of Cimarron County’s Prince family, Luca had once had quite a reputation for getting into trouble and womanizing. He’s not the same person he once was and means to prove it. There’s just one little problem with his plan and she has beautiful eyes and a penchant for sass.
Luca knows Ella doesn’t trust easily and understands she has no reason to trust him at all. But he wants to be there for her, to be someone she needs. She’s the only woman he wants and he wants to be the one to give her the happiness and home she’s never had.
The first in Julia London’s Princes of Texas series, The Charmer in Chaps won me over. I’ve been a fan of Ms. London’s historical romances for years but normally don’t select cowboy-type romances for myself. This book, however, swept me away to Cimarron County and a story infused with the same humor and chemistry that kept me coming back to this author to begin with.
The back and forth between these two characters was incredibly fun to watch. The story had a lot of heart too. Our characters have changed a lot since high school, in some ways not so much. They both learn not to make assumptions, to listen, to learn. Kudos to the author for taking on the subject of learning disability with such intelligence and dignity. As someone with the same disability, I really appreciated that. Thank you.
The Charmer in Chaps is the start of a series I’m personally looking forward to reading. The characters are people I’d love to have as neighbors, the dialogue is spot on, and the story is going to have you up until 4 AM — but it’s worth it. Luca and Ella’s story is beautiful, moving, and funny as hell. This is the perfect book to put at the top of your summer reading list. Not normally into cowboy romances? Trust me. Give it a read. You’ll love this story.
Everyone knows how intense a high-school crush can be. When every waking moment is consumed with the awareness of the crush, when a smile, or a brush of the fingers from the crushee could carry the crusher for a day. Maybe even a week if you re-examined it ad nauseum with your best friend and roommate, Stacy, while your foster parents yelled at each other in the living room.
That’s how Ella Kendall had felt about Luca Prince in high school. He’d transferred into Edna Colley High School in the middle of their junior year, coming from wherever insanely rich kids came from. He was tall and muscular, dark hair streaked with gold, and hazel eyes that changed from blue to green to brown. He was so handsome and so exotically perfect that Ella’s hormones had stacked up like discarded tires and had burned for the next eighteen months. It was a fire that could not be doused.
Not that Luca Prince ever noticed.
Everyone in the town of Three Rivers knew about the Prince family and the famed Three Rivers Ranch for which the town was named. They’d filmed Hollywood movies there. They’d hosted a summit between the president of the United States and the president of Mexico about some trade thing. The ranch was massive in size and supposedly, if you wanted to see it all in one day, you needed a plane.
Ella and Stacy had never seen the ranch except in pictures, because they sure didn’t run in the popular kids’ circle. But they’d heard about the fabled fortress. It was tucked away behind a big fancy gate, nestled on the bank of the river at the foot of the hills. Mariah Frame, nee Baker, their only friend in high school, had seen the ranch, and she’d said it was a like a castle. A Spanish castle. “It’s so big,” she’d said. “And it has so many horses.” Apparently it also had a pool, tennis courts, cars, and Ella could no longer remember what all. But she used to imagine that it was just like the castles in all the princess movies she’d watched as a kid.
Ella, Stacy, and Mariah had called him Prince Luca. He was so dreamy, with those mesmerizing eyes and wavy hair that brushed his shoulders. He and his twin sister, Princess Hallie, had ruled Colley High. They were the homecoming queen and king, a stratosphere of popularity so high above Ella that she must have looked like a speck to them.
Once, Luca had asked Ella for her notes from algebra, and Ella had gotten so tongue-tied that she’d just shoved them at him. And of course she’d completely lost her mind on the night of the senior dance when he’d grabbed her hand—without asking, now that she thought about it, but that was a minor detail—and pulled her onto the dance floor. And then, just like in the movies, after a bit of swaying around, he’d kissed her.
Out of the blue, with no warning, Prince Luca had kissed her, right in the middle of the dance floor, beneath the piñatas. Ella had been kissed many times since, but she remembered everything about that one. His hand had cupped her face; his other had rested on the small of her back. His lips had lingered on hers for what seemed like forever, soft and tender, like he’d landed there and liked it. He had not kissed her in the urgent, demanding way that Clint Adams had kissed her their sophomore year. Prince Luca’s kiss was a proper knee-melting, heart-exploding kiss.
And then, just as suddenly, he’d lifted his head, touched her cheek, and walked off.